Members of the Duxbury Select Board need more time to understand bids and grants related to town road repair projects. To that end, the board, at its March 9 meeting, decided to reconvene on Thursday, March 12, at 6 p.m. to discuss pending bids and grants for town projects. There are two reasons the board wants to wait to discuss bids in particular: First, the five bids the board received from various engineering consulting firms for the Ryan Road culvert were complex; and the board agreed that these long documents and their intricate financial details needed more time to process.
“Just at a cursory glance at this hard copy we received from Grenier Engineering, there is a number of dollar signs associated with it. It would take us all evening to get through it and try to figure out what we’re actually reading. There is a lot of extra stuff in here: resumes, information regarding expertise, experience. So rather than throwing numbers out, we will wait and reconvene,” said board member Kevin Garcia.
“We just don’t understand all the technical stuff that goes with it,” echoed Mari Pratt, select board member.
BID OPENING SECURITY
Another motivation for the board to reconvene for a special meeting on bids and grants was the issue of bid opening security. “These bids should come sealed. Doing it electronically is not secure,” said newly elected board member Dick Charland. Charland was concerned that if project bids came via email instead of in sealed envelopes it would be too easy for town officials to peek at the bids ahead of time.
Pratt’s suggested remedy was for the board to stop accepting electronic bids. “I move that in the future we do not accept electronic bids,” said Pratt. However, the motion was not seconded.
“Let’s think about that in the future,” said Garcia.
Select board member Dan Schillhammer argued in favor of electronic bids. “In this day and age we aren’t getting that many bids. We don’t want to stop a person from sending one by doing it with snail mail,” said Schillhammer. The board will further discuss this electronic bidding dilemma at their meeting on Thursday.
In terms of continuing the grant processes for various road repair projects, the board was overwhelmed by both cost and process. “This isn’t a poke at anyone and I hope you understand that. But do you have any idea where we stand with these grants? The select board chair’s numbers did not correlate with anything I had found with the research that I did,” said Charland to the board.
Pratt explained that different road projects are in different stages of the grant reimbursement process, and that the board’s former select board assistant, Jonathan DeLaBruere, knew the most about all grant details. “What we need is the breakdown for all three grants, and Johnathan said he wasn’t doing it until it was all done,” said Pratt.
Charland suggested that the select board invite DeLaBruere to the Thursday night meeting to discuss grants. “We came out of FY19 $156,000 in the hole. I thought they would have the guillotine out in Town Meeting, but they didn’t. I don’t even want to think of where we’ll be in three and a half months. Where we need to start is, the assistant needs to sit down with us and go over this. I would recommend that we invite him to the reconvened meeting on Thursday night because we need to get through this as soon as possible,” said Charland, who went on to recommended that DeLaBruere show up with all his contracts, proposals, emails and documentation that involved the town of Duxbury.
Select board members agreed to discuss grants on Thursday night with DeLaBruere, who despite recently accepting a job as town administrator for the town of Fairfield, Vermont, continues to help the Duxbury Select Board with its grants.
Looking forward, select board members are hoping to put a hold on new grants in order to fix the town’s tenuous financial situation.
“The thought of the end of last year is put a hold on new grants. We want to develop a grant schedule. I’m afraid some of the grants that the town has been awarded we won’t be able to fulfill until we get extensions,” said Garcia.